I took the 4 day cruise on the Carnival Paradise from Los Angeles to Catalina Island and Ensenada.
Style: Festive atmosphere and fun people. Definitely oriented towards young people, singles, and those who like to party and have fun. Not overly refined passengers, but friendly.
Food: Ok in the buffet, but not exciting or particularly varied (very good home made pizza, and mongolian buffet was sometimes interesting). There was better food in the formal restaurant.
Entertainment: Stage shows were loud, but entertaining, lively and enjoyable in the Las Vegas show style. I liked it. I just wish that they would turn down the volumne.
Decoration: I did not like the look of the Paradise at all. The decoration was brown, ugly and tacky with dings and scratches on the wall. The formal dining room was especially unattractive. The ship was clean. Cabins had a cold modern feel, but the bathrooms were spacious, clean and with extra free amenities. The pool areas was very utilitarian. The ship is the weakest point about the cruise. The spa was much nicer but only the Turkish bath was working.
Ports: Catalina Island is a nice place to visit and I recommend it. Ensenada, Mexico is a modern uninspiring Mexican town, but with good handicraft shopping.
Service: OK, but rarely impressive. Our waiter looked glum most of the time. The Maitre d´ was nice.
Smoking: Only allowed inside in the piano bar and one other corner bar. Still too permissive but better than most ships.
Departure port: I think that Long Beach is a nicer port to leave from than Los Angeles.
In sum a boat for those looking to have fun with other people and who are not too picky about the decor. I have traveled on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas and the atmosphere was much more elegant, sedate and conservative than on the Carnival Paradise. The Mariner is also a much much nicer ship hands down. Finally, the Carnival Paradise, from the shows, to the crew to the passengers, there often is a sense of a certain sexuality/sexiness in the air. I suppose that it all goes with the Carnival spirit of having fun and dropping you inhibitions while on the fun boat.
Recommended for people who like to have fun and a party atmosphere and are not overly picky about the rest. Good for budget travelers.
Not recommended for older couples, children and those looking for elegance and refinement or those hoping to stay on a beautiful ship.